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Antigen-specific densensitization in a rabbit model of acute hypersensitivity pneumonitis

Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/0091-6749(81)90188-3
  • Biology
  • Medicine


Abstract Rabbits that had been prepared to develop acute alveolitis after aerosol challenge with simple protein antigens did not develop chronic alveolitis but rather gradually recovered despite continued challenge. Immunologic accompaniments of waning disease were compared in this model to those associated with intravenous injections of antigen causing “desensitization”. We also studied the effects of aerosol challenge prior to systemic immunization, antigen specificity, and the duration of desensitization by aerosolized and intravenous antigen. We found that repeated aerosol or intravenous challenges produced antigen-specific desensitization in this model, and the effect lasted several weeks. Prior exposure to aerosolized antigen was not protective. Neither aerosol nor intravenous desensitization maneuvers abrogated antigen-specific lymphocyte blastogenesis, although an early transient fall did occur. Humoral responses were boosted. These findings suggest that chronic alveolitis is prevented in this model by specific desensitization, without the induction of true tolerance or of nonspecific anergy. Such immunoregulation may result from development of antigen-specific blockade or blocking factors (e.g., lymphokines), antigen-antibody complexes, or suppressor cells affecting specific effector cells. Evaluation of these mechanisms may have implications for diagnosis and prognosis in human hypersensitivity pneumonitis.

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